Previously on Hannibal, ‘Digestivo’
Francis Dolarhyde flexes his fingers, as though his skin doesn’t quite fit. From the lunch table at his work, Gateway, a Time magazine covering William Blake’s Great Red Dragon paintings siezes his attention. At home he stretches impossibly, like an animal, working to build his back muscles. He purchases a mismatched set of teeth from a Chinese shop and gets tattooed. He kneels before the dragon painting, his new tattoo flexing across his back.
Artistic note: Armitage studied Japanese Butoh dancing, the dance of darkness, to learn animalistic movement. And it was INSANE.
A choir boy sings in the Norman Chapel where Hannibal listens from the pews. His memory palace. He barely registers his surrender and processing, his memory palace more real than reality. As he walks to his cell, a news story calling him the “Kitchen Nightmare” scrolls behind him, Chilton’s name visible. He mentally transforms his cell into his home. 3 years pass.
Wearing a fine red suit, Alana shares his favorite wine and truffles, “Betrayed by good taste.” He’s officially been termed insane, saving him from certain execution for the dozen deaths they know of, or baker’s dozen, if you count Mason. “You’re welcome,” he says. She wasn’t among them, but he always keeps his promises. As they talk, he’s sketching her face into a classical artwork (Joan of Arc?). Never a good sign. On a lighter note, she’s stopped drinking beer, since she figured out what he was putting in her beer. “Who,” he corrects. Beer… is… people!
In his attic, Dolarhyde smashes his mirror and smacks his head, earplugs blocking outside noise. He hisses, shushes, mewls, growls… then stops search for the answering growl, bending close to the shattered mirror. A full moon. Drops of blood on the snow. He stands in the dark, covered in blood, gasping.
Cloves into milk. Cocoa. Valrhona chocolate. Lady fingers. Sanguinaccio Dolce, shared by Hannibal and Chilton, traditionally made with blood from a cow. The last time? Hannibal smirks, “The blood was from a cow, only in a derogatory sense.” Chilton says he should’ve used Blood and Chocolate as his book title, but he refuses to use colons, and, like overused punctuation, Hannibal’s popularity is waning, too niche. But this new killer, the Tooth Fairy, appeals to all with his killing of entire families. Hannibal seems irritated by Frederick’s waning fascination, guessing that the killer doesn’t like his nickname.
Alana finds Frederick in her office chair and orders him out. He mockingly offers up thankful prayers for Hannibal’s capture, made possible by both of their lies, his in particular, she notes. He’s unconcerned, since nobody can refute it, but she warns him of a rebuttal Hannibal’s been crafting, which could hurt Chilton’s career. Likewise, Chilton urges Alana to be careful of what Hannibal might do next, given his “competitive vanity”—“The young Turk may inspire the Old Lithuanian to keep himself interesting.” Behind him, a deer’s head with antlers.
Never Be Anyone Else but You, Ricky Nelson. Dolarhyde relaxes with an old film, but his ears begin ringing. He peers into the projector light seeing a dragon, hearing it growl. The film enwraps his head and the projector light gleams from his eyes and mouth. He neatly clips a newspaper story about him killing perfect families and pastes it into his scrapbook, next to a page about Hannibal the Cannibal, then marks through “Tooth Fairy.”
Hannibal rolls a pencil across his table, paper perfectly aligned, and begins writing. “Dear Will…” his arm moves with his looping calligraphy.
Will and his growing herd of dogs are out in the snow when Jack pulls up. The two men share coffee on the porch—Will doesn’t want to let him in and instructs him not to get out any pictures since Molly and Walter will be back soon. Undeterred by his cutting remarks, Jack wonders if Will thought of calling with ideas about the killings, but, no, Will doesn’t think about that anymore. How about one photo then? Just a happy family… all dead. Jack plows ahead with his theory that the killer is in phase with the moon. Later they share a glass of wine with Molly. She talks of their home full of stray dogs people drop off, her 11 year old son growing up. When Will and Walter take the dogs out, Molly knows Jack is going to take Will no matter what he says. More antlers behind Jack.
“How bad is it gonna be if you stay here and read about the next one? Maybe it would sour this place for you,” she says, the good angel on Will’s shoulder, at bedtime. If he goes, at least she knows he’s doing the right thing. He’s surprised at her agreement, warning that if he goes, he’ll be different when he gets back. “I won’t.” she replies.
When she’s asleep, he gets up and pulls out a hidden envelope, a letter from Hannibal with the “Perfect Families” clipping. Hannibal narrates: They’ve all moved on, but their former lives lurk in the darkness. He encourages Will not to step back through the door where madness awaits. Will burns the letter and clipping.
At the victims’ home, Will finds the dog house empty and a perfect circle cut into the glass of the door, a bite taken from a Baby Bell cheese in the fridge. He walks past bloody footprints and evidence markers up the stairs. His flashlight shows two boys dead, the father slaughtered outside their door, the bedroom mirror cracked. Red threads stream down all over the bedroom carnage. Gears grind in the soundtrack as he visibly resists entering the mind of the killer, but he relents. Light flashes across his face as he enters his process. The family resets, and he backs out, pausing… then enters the killer’s mind.
He cuts the hole in the glass and enters, cutting the father’s throat and shooting the mother, neither immediately fatal. The father battles through his injury to protect the children, but Will throws him down and shoots the kids. After the father dies in the hallway, Will begins smashing all the mirrors. He places broken shards on their eyes and mouths. A trace of talcum powder makes Will realize the killer was compelled to touch the woman. The red evidence twine radiate behind him like great wings. “This is my design.”
“I was told you were told I was coming. Were you not told?” Special Agent Jimmy Price asks the funeral director, who says they had to shoo away “an obnoxious flame-haired woman” (Freddie Lounds) and now they only have 4 hours to inspect the mother’s body before the funeral. He requests a “reasonably intelligent assistant,” but his own arrives and the team is back together again. They mold her teeth and lift a print from her eye. Back at headquarters and happy to see Will, Jimmy and Brian announce their killer isn’t in the system, but they do now have a mold of teeth based on the cheese bite. Will surmises the biting is a sexual behavior, something he’s fighting. But what?
Dolarhyde meticulously cleans his projector parts, but is interrupted by the growling and ringing again. The teeth call to him.
Will pours himself a glass of whiskey in his motel room and calls home. No answer. When he lies on the bed, he seems himself suspended amongst the photos of dead perfect families.
The next day he asks Jack about the missing dog, who was fortunately at the vet for the night. Will frets over it, but Jack tries to get him not to worry about the dog. In that case, there’s one thing Will has to do, and he can either do it now or later, but he has to recover his mindset. And to do that, he has to see Hannibal.
Will walks into the Norman Chapel, Hannibal waiting at its center, and greets him, now separated by the cell wall. “Hello, Dr Lecter,” he says formally. “Hello, Will,” a reserved Hannibal replies.
After last week’s mid-season climax, this introductory episode into Red Dragon felt contextually light for me. I enjoyed the idea that Hannibal’s memory palace is now more real than reality to him, but his withdrawal from reality and subsequent reserved behavior made me long for more Hannibal being Hannibal. With this subdued setup came many questions: Was he making the dessert for Chilton, or simply remembering making it? Who approves these decadent meals? Do they actually let him have glass? WHO is Molly? Are she and Will married? Does their house smell like wet dog? Did they honeymoon in De Nile?
Will has clearly not dealt with his Hannibal experience, but rather simply set it aside for the moment. It was startling to see him with a notably average woman, especially after the ethereal Chiyoh, Alana, and even Margot; it makes sense on one level, but it’s as though he’s playing at regular life. I hope they’re able to show this character’s worth beyond the naïve Good Heart she was in this episode and damsel in distress she’s destined to be (Perfect Families, hello). One can imagine her asking the same question Alana did last episode—Could I ever have understood you? So far, it seems unlikely.
On the positive side, Richard Armitage fantastically communicated his monstrous awakening through literally no words; his back muscles moved so unnaturally that one could easily imagine dragon wings breaking forth. He’s well suited to this role, and I look forward to where he’s taking this character. Likewise, Hugh Dancy persuasively conveyed Will’s agonizing resistance to entering the killer’s mindset; it was painful to watch. I loved seeing the coroner crew again, and hopefully we’ll see more of their leavening humor through the remainder of the season.